Apr 8 2019 Reflection
Monday 8 April 2019
First Reading: DN 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62
Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6
Gospel Reading: JN 8:12-20
Today’s Note: Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent
When accusations are brought against you, how do you respond and where do you turn for help? The Book of Daniel tells the story of Susanna, a godly woman who loved God and his word. She was unjustly accused of adultery by two elder judges who had tried to seduce her. Since adultery was a serious offense punishable by stoning to death, the law of Moses required at least two witnesses, rather than one, to convict a person. Susanna knew she had no hope of clearing her good reputation and escaping death apart from God’s merciful intervention. Daniel tells us that she looked up to heaven and cried out to the Lord for his help (Daniel 13:35). The two elders who wanted to sin with her had done just the opposite – they hid themselves from God’s sight and they kept their secret sin hidden from the people as well. They brought false charges against her in revenge for her refusal to sin with them. God in his mercy heard the plea of Susanna and he punished the two elders for giving false witness.
Unjust accusations against Jesus
The Gospel accounts describe how Jesus had to face unjust accusations made by the Pharisees, the ruling elders of Israel. They were upset with Jesus’ teaching and his healing on the Sabbath. They plotted what charges they might bring against him in order to arrest him and bring him to trial. They wanted to not only silence him, but put him to death for his claim to be the Messiah. They accused him of blasphemy because he claimed to have authority equal with God.
In chapter 8 of John’s Gospel, we hear the account where Jesus publicly proclaims in the Temple at Jerusalem that he is the “light of the world” (John 8:12). Jesus spoke these words around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Festival of Lights. This statement must have made a striking impression on the Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem for the occasion. For eight nights the great candelabras which stood in the Temple courtyard lit the Jerusalem skyline with a blaze of dazzling [extremely bright] light. Jesus’ statement very likely came at the end of the Festival when the great lights where extinguished. In so many words, Jesus says he is the one true light which no one can extinguish or diminish (see John 1:4-5). He is the true light not only for God’s chosen people Israel, but for all peoples and nations as well.
Many of the scribes and Pharisees reacted with shock and disbelief when they heard Jesus describe himself as light of the world and light of life (John 8:12). In the Gospel of John we hear seven “I am” statements from the lips of Jesus: “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35), “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), “I am the Gate” (John 10:9), “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11), “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25), “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6), and “I am the Vine” (John 15:5). Jesus also emphatically stated, “Truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). When Moses asked God to reveal his name. God responded by saying, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:13-14). When the Pharisees heard Jesus says “I am the light”, they clearly understood that Jesus was making a claim which only God could make. The word light in Scripture was especially associated with God. The Lord is my light (Psalm 27:1). The Lord will be your everlasting light (Isaiah 60:19). When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me (Micah 7:8).
The scribes and Pharisees demanded that Jesus produce signs and witnesses to prove his claim. But the testimony and signs which Jesus gave did not satisfy the religious rulers because they had already determined in their own minds that he needed to be eliminated since his teaching did not agree with their own view and interpretation of the law of Moses (John 5:39-46). Their judgment was based on wrong assumptions and an evil intention to put Jesus to death. Jesus stated that his authority was not based on human knowledge and perception but on the knowledge and revelation which came from God. Jesus’ rightfully claimed that his authority came from his heavenly Father (John 5:19,21,26-27,36; John 8:28). No one could do the mighty works which he did and speak with such authority unless it had been given to him by the Father.
The light Jesus came to give us
What did Jesus mean by the expression I am the light of the world and light of life (John 8:12)? The light Jesus came to give is the light of God’s revelation – his beauty, truth, wisdom, and power. God’s light exposes the darkness of sin which is often hidden and sometimes even unknown to us. His light brings healing, pardon, and restoration as well – freeing us from the burden of guilt and the scars of sin’s effect on us – physically, spiritually,intellectually,and emotionally. We need God’s penetrating light to shine into our innermost being so he can remove wrong patterns of thoughts, attitudes, and hurtful desires.
Sin and every form of wrong-doing cloud our vision of what is good and right and lead us down the wrong path away from God’s truth and righteousness (moral goodness). God’s light shows us the way that leads to peace, joy, happiness and fulfillment. The light which the Lord Jesus offers produces in us abundant life and great fruitfulness. Just as natural life depends on light for energy, warmth, and growth (without it nothing could live or grow), so the light of God’s kingdom power produce in us new life in the Holy Spirit and the abundant fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control (Galatians 5:22,23). The light which the Lord Jesus gives enables us to walk freely and confidently without stumbling in the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief. His light warms our heart to the truth of God’s love and it opens our eyes to recognize the reality of God’s kingdom at work within us. Do you walk confidently in the light of God’s truth and love?
“O gracious and Holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you, and a life to proclaim you; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Prayer of Saint Benedict of Nursia, 480-547 AD)